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    Thursday, February 22, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (2/20/18): Stay For The Wrestling

    Is it just me or is watching SmackDown Live slowly becoming a chore? Since they added Live to its name, the Blue Brand became a must-watch weekly spectacle on WWE weekly programming, even besting the flagship show at one point. What they lacked in star power, they made up for in superb storytelling. Now, I can’t even name a storyline worth tuning in to every week, aside maybe from AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, and it hasn’t even started yet.

    Creative completely ruined the momentum of the Shane O’Mac/Daniel Bryan storyline, the women’s division has nothing going on, and the midcard scene’s not looking good under Bobby Roode’s reign. They even started this nonsensical Top 10 System that they’re not even sure how to use. Top it all off with crappy personal message promos and questionable graphic changes and, voila, you’ve got the shadow of a once great wrestling show.

    The Pinnacle of Storytelling No More

    “I didn’t expect this Top 10 List would cause this much controversy,” said Daniel Bryan before proceeding to campaign for Jinder Mahal, a man not even close to the list, as the next contender for Bobby Roode’s United States Championship. I hated this segment the most because it’s the perfect metaphor for the show’s gradual decrease in quality.

    First, they acknowledged the existence of the Top 10 but completely ignored its intended use. As the ones who created this initiative, shouldn’t they be the first ones to recognize the purpose of the Top 10 List? D-Bry said it himself a few weeks ago—management will use the list to determine contenders. So why is D-Bry advocating for Jinder? Yeah I know, I’m as tired as you are in pointing out the faults of the listing system. Let’s just say this segment was a huge "fuck you" to the system they created. They should just drop it at this point. And hey, guess who's still a no-show despite being part of the prestigious list. Hint: His name rhymes with Rye Killinger.

    Second, it’s just a poorly executed segment to try and further widen the gap between the two authority figures. What stung more is that they weren’t subtle about it. We get it; you’re not on the same page. Can you please do something about it now? How many weeks of these type of segments will they have before one of them snaps? I’m pretty sure Creative doesn’t have an end game for both men and they’re just winging it week after week. Just focus on fleshing out the Top 10 System or something, please.

    Speaking of my new bestie Jinder Mahal, how about that horrible rehash of a segment they had? Seriously, they just changed some things, but it was the same damn promo as last week. Jinder stirred the pot between Roode and Orton, Orton came out, and Jinder stood tall in the end. Their storyline didn’t move at all! And don’t get me started on that weak opening segment. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore. Sami Zayn is a boil on Kevin Owens’ back? Really? That’s the best hirit you can give to the freakin' WWE champion?

    But the Wrestling’s Great, Though

    I’d be skipping this week’s review if it weren’t for the solid wrestling. I wouldn’t blame you if the opening segment bored you and made you switch the program off, but you missed some hard-hitting action in the process. It’s great that everyone is willing to produce great matches. At the end of the day, it’s still a wrestling show. But wouldn’t it be better if these matches had equally great storylines to fuel them? After all, isn’t pro-wrestling supposed to be 50% wrestling and 50% pageantry?

    Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock weren’t the best grapplers in the biz, but I’m pretty sure these two served as your gateway to the crazy world of pro-wrestling. Why? Because they possessed great personalities and they were involved in storylines that blew everyone away. They’re not always great, but they kept people glued to their seats week after week. The wrestling aspect got better through the years, but it was the stories that made us wanting more. Will we ever care about Daniel Bryan without his now iconic Yes Movement storyline? Will we ever remember CM Punk without the infamous pipebomb? If Mark Calaway debuted as some dude, do you think he’ll get a legendary WrestleMania winning streak? I’m feeling extremely ranty today.

    Anyway, there were hardly any boring matches this week, from the moment Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler started brawling it out, to AJ Styles going airborne to defeat Baron Corbin. Even the weekly Bludgeon Brothers squash match was fun! The New Day also got rid of their silly pre-match promos and just went down to business with American Alpha 2.0 in yet another solid tag match. By the way, how about that wicked Deep Six from Corbin? They should call it Cyclone Deep Six or Deep Twelve. I like the first one better.

    At the very least, the first and last match did inject some story in between. Sami Zayn re-aligned with Owens and said he’ll lay down for his best friend at Fastlane (Betrayal Alert!) while Corbin tried to use his previous victories against Styles as leverage to get inside his head. They tied it all up into a little bow by having Corbin stand tall in the end despite the loss, which works, I guess. Also, the Bludgeon Brothers continue to make their presence known, despite the New Day receiving the title shot.

    Imagine if the Team Charlotte vs. Riott Squad storyline was actually built properly. They delivered one hell of a match, but it was hard to care since this was the nth time these women have faced each other. And suddenly, Ruby Riott received a title shot, going behind bigger names like Becky Lynch and Naomi—who are actually in the Top 10. You see how irritating it is, setting up a system only for everyone to ignore it? All I’m saying is every single rivalry needs to be backed up by solid writing because relying on the wrestling aspect alone is never enough. We need intrigue, suspense, revenge, betrayal, anything to make us want to tune in next week and see what happens next. And you know what’s more insulting? NXT does it week after week in only an hour.

    So come for the storylines and be disappointed, but stay for the wrestling because that AJ fella can sure kick some serious ass.

    So how did they do this week? If the wrestling aspect of every WWE show excites you more than anything, then you’re going to love this week’s episode. But if you’re like me who expects more out of wrestling, then you’ll be a tad bit disappointed. It’s just a matter of time before the audience loses interest in the show and attendance numbers start to drop again, and I’m afraid WWE’s going to blame the fact that AJ Styles is the top star of the brand. So please, Creative, rise to the challenge and bring us back the SmackDown Live we all came to love. For now, how about a C? Yeah, that sounds right.

    Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn’t Make It

    • Randy Orton didn’t even meet his weekly quota of at least one RKO frawarfhauanaefwer. Bummer.
    • If only they treated the Riott Squad better, Ruby Riott could’ve been the next big baddie of the women’s roster. I’m really loving her badass vibe.
    • If Roode was really in for a fight, why was he wearing a suit? Lol wrestling logic.
    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Jay Publico is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A known Botchamania binge-watcher, he claims to have memorized the chronological order of Royal Rumble winners, but fails to remember who won in 2004. He writes stories about life and nonsense.
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    Item Reviewed: SmackDown RunDown Live (2/20/18): Stay For The Wrestling Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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